SPORTS

About time for Tebow time

Keeping with the theme of quarterback controversy that has filled recent Cavalier Daily sports pages, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the QB plight of this year’s NFL drama queen, the New York Jets.

Hard Knocks or not, Rex Ryan and his team of colorful personalities always seem to find their way into the news somehow. After acquiring Tim Tebow this offseason and a few comments that probably should have remained in-house from Santonio Holmes, the Jets seemed destined to take over SportsCenter this year.

If incumbent Mark Sanchez had just come out and played up to expectations, then there would be no talk of benching him in favor of the former Heisman Trophy winner. But praise be to Tebow, Sanchez has laid an egg of massive proportions this season, and now Skip Bayless and the rest of his cult are gearing up for Tebow Time.

Up until this point, I’ve been staunchly anti-Tim Tebow. I thought it was hilarious that he took the Broncos to the playoffs and even knocked out the Steelers in the wildcard game, but I refused to give Tebow credit as a viable NFL starting quarterback.

I don’t like the way he plays quarterback, as he is neither a traditional pocket passer, nor a speedy mobile gunslinger. Tebow looks more like a fullback than a quarterback and at times plays like one too. But regardless of my qualms with Tebow, the man is undoubtedly a remarkable athlete, football player and — although I have no idea how — winner, which is more than I can say about Sanchez.

Now more than ever, Sanchez seems to fit the mold of the over-hyped, pretty-boy USC quarterback who can’t deliver in the pros, following in the footsteps of Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer — with the exception of the two stellar seasons Palmer cobbled together with the Bengals.

Kudos to Rex and the Jets’ front office for sticking with their man and trying to feign some semblance of faith in Sanchez. But if they truly wanted to keep the heat off Sanchez’s back, they should have never acquired Tebow, the walking media circus.

The Jets have tried and failed to squash the brewing quarterback controversy. Their season is by no means over at 2-3 entering Week 6, but it certainly could be soon if they don’t have the foresight to abandon the sinking S.S. Sanchez. As the cries for Tebow Time get louder in New York, Rex will find it almost impossible to prop up Sanchez’s confidence.

Sanchez couldn’t win with Santonio Holmes, and without him I’m not sure he has a prayer. Experimenting with Antonio Cromartie on offense may look exciting on paper, but a position change for a prominent player comes off as a desperate maneuver this early in the season. Rex needs to remember he’s coaching in the NFL, not high school.

Other than a standout Week 1 performance against Buffalo, Sanchez has been abysmal this year. In each of his last three games, he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and completed less than half of his passes. Against Pittsburgh and San Francisco Sanchez threw for 138 and 103 yards, respectively. When you pass the ball more than 25 times per game on average, anything less than 200 yards is unacceptable in the pass-happy NFL.

I’m not saying Tebow is the answer, but he certainly couldn’t do any worse. He’s more dynamic than Sanchez, and his ability to run the option can give defenses nightmares. Tebow looked like a man possessed when he ran the ball Monday night, carrying defenders while he trucked his way to positive gains.

The biggest knock on Tebow is his passing ability. But Tebow’s paltry 46.5 percent completion percentage last year is not significantly worse than Sanchez’s 49.2 percent this year.

The worst part about watching the Jets Monday night was watching Sanchez shoot his team in the foot while they were driving to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Although Sanchez doesn’t bear all responsibility for the dropped pass that turned into a drive-killing interception, he is culpable for his failure to hit open receivers when the game was on the line.

With less than 10 seconds left and a comeback unlikely, it looked as if Sanchez had given up on the game. His play reinforced the gloomy body language, as his short pass fluttered to the ground, seemingly miles away from any receiver. Sanchez didn’t get great protection from his line, but his late game play was inexcusable. Regardless of the flaws elsewhere on the offense, I have to believe Tebow the miracle-worker would have come in and given 200 percent.

If protection is part of the problem, the gigantic, mobile Tebow could be part of the solution. Tebow is not an elite quarterback, but he is an elite competitor.

Sanchez’s most glaring issue is his propensity for becoming ever shakier as the game wears on. The numbers show he starts off completing almost 65 percent of his passes in the first quarter, and by the fourth quarter he only completes 37.8 percent. Sanchez is anything but clutch. He’s an effective game manager, boasting a 114.6 passer rating when his team is ahead. But when the Jets are down, Sanchez’s rating drops to 62.7. The team and Sanchez fall apart together.

Tebow, on the other hand, gets better as the game goes on. His rating rises from a 69.9 to an 84.0 as the game progresses. Tebow’s completion percentage is at his best when his team is behind, and I truly believe if the Jets want to win, we need to see more Tebow.

If Rex insists on incorporating Pop Warner tricks into his offense, he should start Sanchez and replace him at halftime or in the fourth quarter with Tebow. A quarterback carousel like the Rocco-Watford debacle last year is one of the worst things you can do for a quarterback’s confidence, but at this point does Sanchez have any confidence left to be harmed?

The bottom line is some guys have what it takes and some guys don’t. Sanchez has been underwhelming this season, and Tebow is a proven winner. Maybe he doesn’t always do it in the prettiest or the most conventional way, but the man wins games.

If Sanchez’s play continues to stink while Tebow sits on the bench, Rex may be signing his own pink slip by season’s end.

At the start of the season I would have been ashamed to say it, but I think it’s Tebow Time. Like Skip says, “All he does is win.”


Published October 10, 2012 in Sports







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